OSWEGO, NY – Elementary students in the Oswego City School District are taking science and technology to the next generation.
Prior to Wednesday evening’s brief board of education meeting at Riley Elementary, a foursome of third graders gave the board and administration a little taste of how they are using technology in their classrooms.
They demonstrated Lego creations they designed and constructed. And, and with the help of their laptops, were able to animate their handiwork.
Riley Principal Dr. Linda Doty explained about ‘STEM’ – “or STEAM, as I call it because we included the Arts.”
“It’s not a curriculum. It’s not a program. It’s a philosophy; it’s a Big Picture philosophy. We teach the whole child,” she said. “We have third grade on board. We have fourth grade moving forward. And we have sixth grade on board.”
Riley has a small Buccaneer TV station and the sixth graders are learning how to use the equipment.
“Hopefully, when they go to the middle school, they can join Buc TV there and then continue on at the high school,” the principal said. “We have so many kids that we have to do a rotation schedule.”
Third grade teacher Stacey Dawson had four of her students show the board exactly what it is they have been doing in their classrooms.
“I do this because it is our future. Through a grant from Entergy, I have had people from all walks of life come in and talk to the students and discuss their careers that involve science and technology,” Dawson said.
Students are enjoying school more now, she added.
“When you put things in front of them and they have to build and create and think they can’t wait for that time of the day,” she said.
They have built things with Legos, used electricity and have even created rockets, the teacher told the board.
Over the past week, the students have been building with Lego kits. They have hooked their creations to computers and programmed them to move.
“I just kind of let them explore it for themselves. And if you were in the room, you would have heard things like, ‘Oh my gosh. Come here look at this! It opens its mouth.’ They figured this out on their own,” Dawson said.
Afterwards the students talked about what they learned, what worked and what didn’t. They learned from each other and went back and revised and recreated, Dawson said.
“I think it’s important to show kids in third grade that these are the careers they are going to have,” she pointed out. “We’re preparing students today for jobs that don’t yet exist.”
Ben Halsey, the district’s new superintendent, said he was very impressed by the students’ demonstrations and their knowledge of their projects.
“The use of technology to enhance instruction is, I think, just unbelievable,” the superintendent said. “These kids were having a wonderful time tonight showing off their projects and talking about what they’ve learned.”
“It has reached kids that might not have traditionally been reached and even given the talented and gifted kids another level to go to,” Halsey added. “I was very impressed!”